Compiled ByDeborah Austin E-Procurement may prove the biggest challenge and opportunity for the U.S. hospital system in decades -- with technology integration the critical factor in determining competitive success -- says Millennium Research Group (MRG). Current annualized online purchasing by U.S. hospitals totals $10 billion -- a $5.3 billion increase since June 2000 -- shows MRG's recently released third quarterly survey of purchasing managers. Fifty-two percent of hospital purchasing executives believe that by 2003, e-procurement will comprise more than half their total purchasing. MRG's "Hospital Online Procurement Survey" shows health-care supply-chain-solutions company Neoforma leading in hospital registration over competitors medibuy, Broadlane, medpool, Global Healthcare Exchange, and The New Health Exchange. MRG -- strategic information provider to the medical device, biotechnology, and health-care e-commerce industries -- is based in Toronto.